I have been making purses or tote bags using placemats. Most placemats are lined or reversible so there is no need to line the purses. Just fold the place mat in half and sew a seem up each side. Stitch across the flattened bottom corner to make a flat bottom for the purse. Turn it inside out so that the seams are inside the purse. You don't even have to hem the top side of the purse because it is hemmed already on the place mat.
I had a number of cotton webbed belts that I never wear so I cut those to make handles. I just stitched one handle to the top of both ends of the stitched together placemat. I also used coarse ribbon for handles, ties I had cut off slacks that were made to look like draw string waist lines, and with some I folded a fabric scrap and stitched on top of it to make the handle. They can be left open at the top or attach some Velcro or a large snap to close the top.